Albus Dumbledore casting Arresto Momentum without a wand

"The wand is a European invention, and while African witches and wizards have adopted it as a useful tool in the last century, many spells are cast simply by pointing the finger or through hand gestures. This gives Uagadou students a sturdy line of defence when accused of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy (‘I was only waving, I never meant his chin to fall off’)."
—History of wandless magic[src]

Wandless magic[1] is the performance of magic without the use of a wand. Such magic is often difficult to perform, and can have unexpected or volatile results if not done properly. Usually, witches and wizards accustomed to using wands can only reliably perform wandless magic if they possess great skill.[1] However, within regions of the wizarding world that historically did not use wands, wandless magic is considered the norm, and using one is optional.[1][2]

Nature and practice

Wands are used by witches and wizards to channel their magic, making their spells more accurate and potent.[1] Within cultures where wands are ubiquitous, only the most powerful and disciplined wizards and witches can perform wandless magic reliably.[1] Transfiguration and charms are particularly difficult to perform without a wand.[1]

However, the wand is a European invention, and some cultures did not traditionally rely upon such tools for performing magic:[1][2] Native Americans have their own practices of magic that predate European colonisation, and did not require a wand;[1] African witches and wizards only adopted the wand in the 20th century, and even today wands are not necessary for many of their practices.[2]

Underage magic

Main article: Underage magic

Wandless spells were often used in cases of underage magic, in which children under the age of eleven, who had no wands, sometimes used magic. This was known as Accidental Wandless Magic. On most of these occasions, the children had no control over their abilities, and would unintentionally use magic when upset or in danger.

Some children, however, exerted some control over their magic, but they were untrained in proper spells. For example, Tom Riddle was able to hurt people and influence animals before he even knew of the existence of the wizarding world,[3] and Lily Evans was able to use magic to stop herself falling as fast as normal and also to accelerate the growth of a flower.[4]

Known practitioners

Minerva McGonagall casting a wandless Avifors Spell

Voldemort moving a giant's body out of his path by waving his hand

The following people have been known to perform spells intentionally without use of a wand:

Possible practitioners

The following people may or may not have intentionally performed spells without use of a wand:

Non-human wandless magic

Main articles: House-elf magic and Goblin magic

Elves and goblins are able to perform magic without wands.[24] Goblins sometimes refer to wizards and witches as "wand bearers" and humans' failure to share wand knowledge with goblins is a source of ill-feeling between the two species.[25]

Behind the scenes

  • In the film adaptation and video game of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hermione Granger casts the Confundus Charm at Cormac McLaggen whispering the words into her hand. She was merely holding her wand while casting the Avis later in the film and merely spoke the Oppugno Jinx to make the conjured birds shoot at Ron like bullets instead of pointing her wand at him as she did in the novel.
  • The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban showed more instances of wandless magic compared to other films, being:
    • Dumbledore flicking the flame of a candle during his speech at the Great Hall
    • Dumbledore casting the Slowing Charm.
    • Lupin opening the lock of a trunk containing the Dementor-like Boggart during harry's training of the Patronus Charm.
  • Rowling describes wandless magic as sophisticated and requiring more talent than magic performed using a wand.[26]
  • Albus Dumbledore has only demonstrated wandless magic a couple of times in the Harry Potter books. He demonstrated wandless magic in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Notable uses of his ability throughout the films were transfiguring the Slytherin banners in the Great Hall to that of Gryffindor's, saving Harry Potter from falling to his death during a Quidditch match, extinguishing and re-igniting a candle with a wave of his hand, repeatedly sending Harry Potter flying away from his duel with Lord Voldemort without touching him, summoning the chain of The Cave boat from the The Cave lake to his hand (causing the water to bubble) and setting a young Tom Riddle's wardrobe on fire respectively. He also dimmed the Great Hall's light sources when summoning the Champions' names from the Goblet of Fire into his open hand, and dimmed the lights in his office when Harry first used the Pensieve to view Dumbledore's memories of Tom Riddle. In each instance, except his encounter with the young Tom Riddle he would extend, wave or otherwise gesture with his hand, while he was not even looking at Tom's wardrobe when he made it engulfed in fire. He even attempted to summon Slytherin's Locket from the basin with Emerald Potion at The Cave island, but it only caused the potion to ripple inside the basin and forced Dumbledore to have to drink it.
  • Tom Riddle, a.k.a Lord Voldemort, also only performed wandless magic in the films, not counting the controlled magic he performed prior to going to Hogwarts. In the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire film, Voldemort wandlessly knocked Harry to the ground when waving his hand in front of Harry's face, deflected Harry's Disarming Charm by waving his hand, and magically lifted Harry from the ground with one hand, applying force to the latter's face from a distance whilst pulling him to his feet. He again used wandless magic on Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, impatiently disarming the boy with a wave of his wand-free hand. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Voldemort again used wandless magic to move a dead giant out of the way (possible with Mobilicorpus) and to make his cloak extend and restrain Harry.
  • In the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Draco Malfoy appears to close the shutters on the Hogwarts Express without a wand, though it's more likely that a Protean Charm had been placed upon them.
  • In the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry casts the Lumos spell in the dark alley to get some light and find his wand. The spell was cast without the wand in his hand and yet the wand itself performed the Lumos spell which allowed him to know where the wand was.
  • In the Fantastic Beast Series, Gellert Grindelwald displayed outstanding skill in wandless Magic, particularly in moving, levitating, and otherwise exerting force on either objects or people with a hand gesture alone. Even while suppressing his abilities while disguised as Percival Graves, he had more than enough ability to generate a forceful shockwave that caused a ripple in the ground, cause people to levitate and fly, such as Newt Scamander and Credence Barebone, summon objects like Newton Scamander's suitcase over to him and Newton Scamander's wand to his hand, and even send an automobile flying across a street. He also mended the wounds of Credence by just putting his hands on them. In the Crimes of Grindelwald, Grindelwald displayed his mastery of Wandless Magic yet again, easily disarming and levitating the wands of the aurors in his carriage and even turning them to dust and also returning Rudolph Spielman's wand to him all with simple hand gestures.
  • Altheda from the fairy tale The Fountain of Fair Fortune may have been able to perform wandless magic, as she was able to brew a potion when her wand was stolen. In the in-universe reality, this would require her to cast a potion-making spell, though Beedle the Bard may have ignored this fact as part of his fairy tale.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "History of Magic in North America: Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century" from Pottermore
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Uagadou" at Wizarding World" from Pottermore
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
  8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  11. 11.0 11.1 Original script of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
  12. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) - NGC version (see this image)
  13. Original script of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 1 (Dudley Demented)
  15. Hermione is seen using a wandless spell in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film), during the Quidditch trail with Ron and Cormac when she uses a 'Confundus' charm against Cormac without any wand.
  16. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, Side Quest "Host the Beauxbatons"
  17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) - Console version (see this image)
  18. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) - NCG version (see this image)
  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 5 (The Dementor)
  20. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 11 (Quidditch)
  21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 3 (The Knight Bus)
  22. 22.0 22.1 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
  23. 23.0 23.1 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
  24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)
  25. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 25 (Shell Cottage)
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